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Money revolves around the World Cup Israel today


The finals in Qatar are close, but some are already looking to the next World Cup • With a monstrous number of teams, an unknown game system and three hosts - the USA, Mexico and Canada - the rush is guaranteed • Nadav Jacobi tries to understand what was going through the heads of the FIFA leaders - outside from huge revenues

In three days, the 2022 World Cup will end, and FIFA will begin the countdown to the next tournament, which will take place in the summer of 2026. Already five years ago, it was decided that in 2026 the World Cup would be held for the first time in three countries - the USA, Mexico and Canada - and for the first time 48 would participate in it teams.

Gianni Infantino, FIFA president, is the man who initiated the 50% increase in the tournament, and the motives are clear: increasing the income of the international association and strengthening his political position at the head of the organization. More national teams equal more votes in the next FIFA presidential elections.

But one thing Infantino and his advisers didn't think about: how exactly would this monstrous World Cup work?

Until recently, the idea was to divide the 48 national teams into 16 houses, only three in each house.

The top two from each house will qualify for the knockout.

According to this system, there will be 80 games (instead of 64 today), and the tournament, like now, will last about four weeks.

Except for the fact that there will be 16 teams that will only play two games before going home, it sounds like a good solution, apparently.

But FIFA's wise men did not take into account that in a home of three teams, in each round there will be one team that will not play, which in many cases will lead to a situation where the two teams that will compete in the last game will know which result will suit them in order to qualify - and send the third team home.

Wenger as a FIFA representative. He has no answers, photo: AFP

Everyone remembers the "Gihon disgrace" in the 1982 World Cup, when West Germany and Austria agreed on a 0:1 victory for the Germans, which resulted in the elimination of Algeria, which finished its games earlier.

That case led to the fact that since 1986, in the third and final round, the two games at each home are held at the same time to avoid unsportsmanship.

This welcome change has created crazy dramas over the years, such as what happened in Qatar in the fifth group, when the table was turned over and over again before it was determined that Japan and Spain would advance to the round of 16, while Germany and Costa Rica would be relegated.

104 games in five weeks

The amazing thing is that FIFA did not address the matter, although there were quite a few commentators who wrote about it. It was only at the end of last week that former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who serves as a special advisor to FIFA, addressed it.

He did not reject the original idea of ​​16 houses of three national teams, but added that two other alternatives are being considered.

One idea is for 12 houses of four teams, with the first and second from each house advancing automatically, and on top of that - the eight best teams that finished in third place will qualify for the round of 16.

The second idea is more complicated: the 48 teams will be divided into two separate tournaments, each of which will have 24 teams playing in six houses of four.

The six house winners, plus the two best runners-up, will qualify for the knockout stage in each tournament.

After the round of 16, the quarter-finals and the semi-finals in each tournament, the last four (two from each tournament) will compete for the title using the Final Four method.

In these two formats, it is a tournament that will include 104 games and last about five weeks, which is already a big problem.

The clubs - who pay the salaries of the players - will strongly object to this, and also from the point of view of the fans and the media teams, this is a more expensive and tiring event than ever before.


FIFA president crushes the popular game, photo: AP

But that's not all: since the World Cup changed from a format of 24 teams to 32, the need for an internal ranking of the best runners-up has been abandoned.

The move to 48 brings us back to this unhealthy situation, because the decisions will be based on goal difference, and there are always differences between the houses in terms of the quality of the teams.

Also, the teams that will play last in terms of the schedule will know exactly what result they need to qualify.

Wenger said that the decision regarding the format will only be made next year, but it is already clear that the transition to 48 national teams is very problematic, and will be met with a lot of criticism.

All the way to New York

Meanwhile, FIFA has already decided on the distribution of tickets for the next World Cup according to the continents. Europe will send 16 teams (in place 13); South America will send six teams, as well as an option for one more in the playoffs (in place 1+4); Africa with nine teams and an option for one more (instead of five); and Asia with eight teams and an option for one more (instead of 1+4). The three hosts will qualify automatically, of course.

Also, three more teams and an option for two teams from the playoffs will arrive from North America and its center, and Oceania will have one guaranteed team and another possible one from the playoffs.

Six teams will participate in the playoff tournament (from all continents except Europe), and the first two will complete the picture of the 48 participants.

The final dates of the World Cup will be determined only after the format is decided, in the summer of 2023. What has been finally determined are the host cities and the division between the countries: 11 in the USA, three in Mexico and two in Canada.

It has not yet been announced where the final game will take place, but there is almost no doubt that it will be at MetLife Stadium in New York - the home stadium of the two famous football teams the New York Giants and the New York Jets.

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Source: israelhayom

All sports articles on 2022-12-15

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